After 40 years in education, Dr. Robin White has retired as president and CEO of the Great Oaks Career Campuses, but she says she won’t entirely leave the classroom.

White and her husband, Van, a retired graphic designer, plan to spend more time at their home in Florida and she says she plans to take classes in subjects that interest her, such as world history.

She stepped down last month after 17 years at one of the nation’s largest joint vocational education districts, the last 12 years as its superintendent. Harry Snyder, the district’s director of adult workforce development, was named her successor.

White, who grew up in Miamisburg, taught in West Carrollton and at Wyoming High School, spent five years with the Ohio Department of Education in Columbus before joining Great Oaks.

She has been recognized for expanding career education at Great Oaks, largely through satellite programming at its 36 affiliated school districts in southwest Ohio.

Great Oaks encompasses 2,200 square miles and serves 2,800 high school students on its four campuses: Diamond Oaks in Green Township, Live Oaks in Milford, Laurel Oaks in Wilmington and Scarlet Oaks in Sharonville. It serves another 11,000 students in satellite programs in affiliated districts and some 39,000 adults with programming ranging from CPR classes to full-time career training.

What do you see as Great Oak’s biggest accomplishment during your tenure?

Great Oaks is an organization that’s in constant change. I’ve tried to keep that momentum going. The most dynamic initiative during my tenure has been our outreach to our partner schools. We’ve expanded satellite programming to over 80 programs in our 36 school districts.

Why is satellite programming important?

I think everyone in education will tell you the game is changing. We see the need for more and better technology, and the need for more focus on workforce development and life after high school. We felt it was important to collaborate with our 36 partners on ways to reach students, provide additional technology to our school districts and focus on careers, which is our niche.

How has education in general changed?

Probably the most dynamic change I’ve seen is that teaching is becoming more and more transparent, so the public is more aware of what is going on in schools from an accountability point of view. Parents and families have more options in education now than they’ve had before. They’re becoming consumers of education. So for teachers, it is important to make sure people know what you do, understand your methods and see quality in your program.

How do you see career education evolving?

We used to say students would change jobs seven times by the time they retire. I think that number has changed exponentially. If you’re going to be successful, you’re going to have to be a life-long learner and stay abreast of what’s going on not only in your field but other fields as well. My crystal ball tells me those who will be successful in the future are those who understand how to learn.

What advice do you have for Harry Snyder, your successor?

I think my biggest piece of advice is to appreciate the opportunity to serve families in our affiliated districts. My second piece of advice is to value the staff (of 450 full-time and 550 part-time employees) at Great Oaks. We have an incredible team of gifted men and women who are so committed to our mission. Finally, have a great time. Enjoy it.